Monday, July 30, 2012

How can this be possible?

A debate arose in our house last night about thinking nothing.  There's some folklore-type theory that men are able to think "nothing".  I find this very difficult to swallow despite the man in my life assuring me it is indeed true.  Surely if you were not thinking, you'd be unconscious.  If you are awake, you must be thinking!  Could it be that men and women just tend to categorize thoughts differently?  What I might term "thoughts about my immediate surroundings with no particular linking or theme" or "trivial and random thoughts", might be classified by a male thinker as "nothing".  But how could you possibly be conscious and yet have no thoughts?  My mind goes all the time and spills over into excessive vocal activity.  I'd like to learn to hold my tongue more often and perhaps harness my thoughts more effectively.  But "nothing"?  Surely not!

So, do you think it is possible to think "nothing"?  If so, are men the only ones able to do this or can women think "nothing" too?  Is it possible to have a total absence of thought or do we just define thoughts differently?


Jessica said...

Oh, someone answer this! This is the same to me as the meditation conundrum, "empty your mind and relax".

Caroline said...

Hi Deb,

I thought about you in Bible study this morning. The question came up "When you are alone, what do you tend to think about most?". One of us said that sometimes she thought nothing (I think particularly when she just needed a break), another said that she was always thinking, that she couldn't think nothing. And we're all women, so I don't think it's just a men thing.

For myself, I think it might be possible to think nothing, but it would be for a very short time (maybe fractions of a second to a few seconds). And I can't be sure that I'm not thinking "trivial and random thoughts" when I think I'm thinking "nothing".

Deb said...

That's really interesting because I hadn't actually thought about the possibility of thinking nothing in a moment or second. I only had several minutes in mind. That brings a new slant on it that I'll have to chew over. Are there spaces between our thoughts? If so, then the space in between our thoughts must be "nothing". Maybe some people are able to stretch those spaces for longer periods of time and thereby have longer periods of "nothing". Or is the brain always thinking one thing after the other continually? If we do have small moments of nothing between individual thoughts, could our mind be said in those fractions of a second to be "unconscious"? In the same way that dreaming is thinking but asleep.... are there sometimes when we are awake but not mindful? Hmmmmmmm.